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My name is Cara and I am a book lover through and through! I do all things books at Appleseed Bookshop. I read, review, blog and am a published alt model. I also review for We Love This Book, Things and Ink and Starburst Magazine. Contact me if you would like a proof read and reviewed at thetattooedbook@yahoo.co.uk or follow me on twitter at twitter.com/thetattooedbook

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov

Butterfly Skin



The Russian cult hit that became a best seller in the 1990s is now available in the UK.

The world of news is changing and as the public's acceptance of the internet increases so does their want for online news. Ksenia is one of the driving forces behind online journalism but even that doesn't guarantee her a pay rise. When she mentions it to her boss, he insists he can't do a thing unless she can come up with something new and exciting.

At the same time there's a killer loose on the streets of Moscow and he's targeted a number of young women already, torturing them and leaving them in a horrifying condition. Ksenia's plan is to create the first website fully dedicated to a killer, to help protect the public, allow them to raise concerns, collect data, maybe even catch them. But as the website grows in popularity even she wonders if she's helping or just supplying a killer with more exposure.

As both she and her website starts to get more exposure she starts to take a deeper look at her personal life. Ksenia's always 'played' and enjoyed being the submissive to a dominant partner but she's newly single and wonders if she'll ever find someone who'll understand her passions, especially when she doesn't quite understand them herself. Soon someone new does appear in her life but as she relishes in the control and pain, she wonders is she can relate to killer just a tiny bit too much.


Sex in novels is risky business, a book can be dismissed away into the realms of  'well it's just trying to be fifty shades of grey' in a heartbeat. PLEASE do not dismiss this book in that way because you will be doing both yourself and the book a injustice. This is sharp and intelligent psychological thriller that doesn't so much concentrate on the killer but on the woman who is making a career from his actions. The novel is also set in a fascinating but recognisable era where Russia is rediscovering itself politically and embracing new technologies. As the quote on the front reads, it is not for the faint hearted and details of the murders are grizzly, occasionally making uncomfortable reading. This however doesn't make it unpleasant reading, quite the opposite, this book is dark, gripping and Kuznetsov has a unique writing style that will leave you wondering why you're enjoying reading something so twisted quite so much.



Buy Butterfly Skin by Sergey Kuznetsov from Amazon here.













Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson

Mira Corpora


At six he's lost and dangerously alone, vulnerable to the older children around him.

At eleven he has what could loosely be described a home with his Mother but as she gives in to the alcohol her outbursts become violent and he bears the brunt of her fury. He runs.

At twelve he is living in the woods among a group of broken youths just like him. He goes to see their oracle but even that isn't simple.

At fourteen he takes to the city, makes some friends and discovers a burnt out superstar.

At fifteen he is taken in by a moment of kindness and lets his guard down, only to be used and abused.

At eighteen he returns to the beginning.


Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson (both the name of the author and the lead character) is possibly one of the darkest books I have ever read. After turning the final page you completely understand the tag line of  'a coming-of-age story for people who hate coming-of-age stories.' There are no happy endings, no innocent heartache or big ethical questions that would usually ink the pages of your average coming-of-age tale. Jeff (the lead character) is dragging himself up through his teenage years, bouncing from one soul destroying scenario to the next until he simply cannot take it anymore.

Jeff Jackson's writing is uncompromising and will occasionally leave the reader feeling quite uncomfortable, especially in his descriptions of burning bodies and hunter massacres but this all adds to the impact of the novel, compelling you to read more rather than put it down. Mira Corpora is compelling, disturbing and refreshingly unique. As with other pieces of work I have massively enjoy (Donnie Darko for example) I'm not sure I've even fully grasped this novel in one reading and can see myself re-reading it and seeing Jeff in a whole new light. If you embrace the unique and enjoy being pushed by the books you read then I genuinely cannot recommend Mira Corpora highly enough, I look forward to future work from Jeff Jackson.





Buy Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson from Amazon here

Buy Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson from Hive here






Thursday, 13 November 2014

Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Chris McDonnell

Adventure Time - The Art of Ooo



If you are a follower of my blog then you will be painfully aware of my obsession with the colourful cartoon greatness that is Adventure Time. With purse, jumper, leggings, a shelf of books and repeated Sunday morning viewings, I'm more then happy to stand up in a room of people and admit to being an addict. That being said, you can probably tell I was pretty excited for The Art of Ooo.

This beautiful, weighty tome starts with a lovingly written introduction from the Hollywood film director, writer and producer Guillermo del Toro:

'It is a landmark, a watershed, and, above all, it is my favourite flavor in the ice cream bin of our world. And like any good pint of ice cream, you cry puzzling tears of joy while you eat it - because it nourishes you and embraces you and drives you to hope, and because nothing - nothing - can be this good. But it is. ' - Guillermo del Toro





The Art of Ooo tells the tale of creator Pendleton Ward from discovering his passion for animated cartoons, to creating a short of Adventure Time for Nickelodeon and then on through the creative process of how the episodes we know and love have been made. This book contains over 300 pages absolutely packed with sketches, watercolours, storyboards and concept art.




The first thing to strike me when I opened up The Art of Ooo for the first time was the incredible amount of detail that has gone in to it and obvious love for the cartoon. The dust jacket's gorgeous but take it off and you're met with an equally stunning design straight onto the hardback beneath. Every single page is bursting with Pendleton Ward's incredibly unique work that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Obviously Phinn and Jake are a massive part of this book but some of my personal favourite parts are the collections of character concept art, the mad cap designs of the weird and wonderful extras that make Adventure Time so individual.

This may go without saying but that wondrous beast that is Christmas is heading our way and if you're looking for something for an Adventure Time fan, THIS IS IT!





WIN ADVENTURE TIME: THE ART OF OOO!

Thanks to the lovely people at Titan Books I have one copy of Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Chris McDonnell to give away. To enter this competition simply comment on this blog below or follow me on Twitter and retweet a competition tweet. This competition is open to UK residents only (sorry, it's a heavy book) and closes at midnight on the 16th of November 2014. Good luck!



Buy Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Chris McDonnell from Amazon here.

Buy Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Chris McDonnell from Hive here.










Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Storm by Tim Minchin, DC Turner and Tracy King

Storm




Tim Michin is a world famous musical comedian whose fan base continues to grow after sold out tours, DVDs and composing for the West End musical 'MATILDA.' In 2006 Tim started to perform a song called 'If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife), over the years this mutated and updated in to what we now know as 'Storm.'

If you're one of the three million people who have viewed the animated short of Tim Minchin's Storm then you'll probably be more than aware of the idea behind the beat poem, animated video and now, graphic novel. Tim and his wife attend a friends dinner party and meet a woman they've never met before. He bites his tongue as she states 'You can't know anything! Knowledge is merely opinon'
but soon he's forced to say something as she waxes lyrical about the benefits of alternative medicine. Tim's opinions on psychics, Scooby Doo and the world in general follow.




 Storm is a fabulous and unique mix of poetry, humour, fact and philosophy, the beautiful art from DC Turner and Tracy King only adding to its impact. The introductions from both Neil Gaiman and Tim Minchin himself give you an enjoyable sneaky peak in to the poems history and how it came about. Storm is an absolute must read for any Tim Minchin fan and I'm sure this graphic novel will only add to his following.





Buy Storm by Tim Minchin, DC Turner and Tracy King from Amazon here.

Buy Storm by Storm by Tim Minchin, DC Turner and Tracy King from Hive here.









Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train




Every morning Rachel takes the same train to work and every morning it stops at the same red light. So on week day mornings she gets a tiny insight into the lives of the couple that live at the house next to the tracks. She used to live on the same road herself with her ex-husband but the couple she watches every morning moved in after she left, she never knew them. With no real names to call them by she makes up her own for the young couple, Jess and Jason. Rachel feeds off her morning snapshots into the strangers relationship, any distraction from her single, alcoholic existence is welcomed. Then one morning the train pauses and she sees a man kissing Jess passionately, a man that isn't Jason. She's shocked at the deceit, having always pictured them as the perfect couple.

One painfully drunken evening she heads back to the street she lived on with her ex-husband, the same street where Jess and Jason live. The night's a blur and the next morning she wakes at home, great chunks of her memory of the night before missing. It was her worst episode yet and even though she can't remember what happened she's filled with unease. Later she hears the woman she knows as Jess is missing and she went missing on the night Rachel was on her street...


This dark tale of two women, one missing and one mistrusting her own memory is completely addictive. The lead character, Rachel is compelling and intriguing although as a reader you're torn between despising, liking or pitying her as ethics lapse and her drinking peaks and troughs. She's nosey, a busy body but you can understand why as there's a desperation in her both to distract herself from her own problems and to genuinely help.

Due to The Girl on the Train being written from a number of different characters perspectives it manages to keep the story moving incredibly quickly, adding to the tension and keeping you guessing right until the end. So is Rachel a nosey alcoholic, a murderer or a witness? You're going to have to read it to find out, all I can tell you is that The Girl on the Train is the best thriller I've read in ages.




To buy The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins from Amazon click here


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Creepy Reads for Halloween



It has been a couple of years since I did a post of Halloween reads and with so many incredible creepy books out at the moment I thought it was time to give you an all new list. I'm trying to avoid the classics that everyone is fully aware of (but I still love you Frankenstein) to take a look at the modern side of creepy fiction. Get your candle burning, turn out the lights and prepare to be scared!



Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Horrorstor

This tale of an Ikea-style home store built on top of a barbaric prison manages to poke fun at retail and be pretty damn creepy at the same time. Not only that, it comes in a superb physical package that could easily be mistaken for an Ikea catalogue, even down to the similar print. This novel also has a kick-ass female lead and a brilliant ending.



Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box

In my opinion Bird Box is simply one of the greatest horror I've ever read and one I will definitely be re-reading numerous times in the future. When vision becomes a vulnerability this tale something superbly stressful and claustrophobic.
There is something on the streets that causes people to become unhinged as soon as they see it, sometimes killing others but always killing themselves. Years after the incidents start one woman has adapted to a world without the risk of sight but it's time for her leave the safe home she's made and take her young children with her.



The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop

It's just another boys survival trip when Troop 52 take to Falstaff but when the troop leader spots a lone man dock onto the island in the middle of the night he has no idea what they're in for. The stranger begs for food as he shovels dirt into his mouth and the troop leader knows there is something seriously wrong, the stranger has bought death with him.



The Testimony by James Smythe



The Testimony

This book is a tough one to classify, it's not exactly horror but the insight Smythe gives us into the human psyche makes it equally dark.
When almost the entire population hears a static sound with no evidence of an origin across the world, everyone stop to listen. Later the static is followed by 'My children..' and later 'do not be afraid.' Is it God, is it aliens, is it the end?



Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

Black Moon

An illness is sweeping the world, an illness that steals sleep from the infected. At first it was a rumour and sleeping pills started to run out, then people started to miss work and no one could function normally, society soon fell into ruins.
Matt's one of the very few people who are still able to sleep and although he tried to keep his hallucinating girlfriend safe, she managed to escape and now he's on a mission to find her in world that's falling apart.



Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation - The Southern Reach Trilogy

Area X has been a no go zone for over thirty years due to contamination. Missions have been sent in to document the area but none went smoothly. One simply disappeared, one all committed suicide and another all returned with terminal cancer. Whatever secrets Area X contains, it's trying to keep them. An unnamed biologist signs up for the latest expedition, not knowing all the facts, just knowing her partner returned suddenly from the most recent mission a different man. She's on a mission to find out the truth about Area X and will do anything to find it.




The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three


When four planes plummet to the ground the world jumps to conclusions but no signs of terrorism is found and when three children are found alive among the wreckage of the four crafts it's hailed as a miracle. Soon messages from people on the doomed aircraft's come to light, warnings of " They're here ... The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there's so many ... They're coming for me now. We're all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he's not to­­--"
Are the children everything they seem to be?




This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong
 

This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude Don't Touch it

This sequel to cult classic 'John Dies at the End is probably best described as Bill and Ted horror. It's funny, unusual, scary and great fun to read.
David's not having the best day when he wakes up to find a giant spider attacking him, it becomes even weirder when it seems that other people can't even see the creature. Things go from bad to worse when the spider escapes, crawls up a police officer and in to his mouth, infecting him with something terrible...




So there you have it, some of the most weird and wonderful stories from the dark side. All that's left to say is ...


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!





Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation - Southern Reach Trilogy



Area X has been a contaminated area for thirty years, segregated by the government of Southern Reach. Eleven different expedition troops have entered the area to investigate and report but each mission has ended differently. The first expedition reported the area had evolved into a perfect wilderness, true nature untouched by man, a modern Eden. The second troop all committed suicide, the third all turned on each other with murderous consequences and the most recent, the eleventh troop all contracted terminal cancer.

We meet the biologist as she enters Area X as part of expedition 12. The all female troop is minimal, made up of the biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor. Originally a linguist had been included but after the months of intensive training and psychoanalysis she decided against participating at the very last moment.

As they pass into Area X they're unnerved by the linguists disappearance but the three woman are encouraged to continue by the psychologist. Banned from taking cameras, videos or GPS of any sort the team rely solely on maps as they head into the wilderness to set up camp.

The biologists hides a secret from her other teams members, a fact she insists to herself won't affect her work. Her husband was a member of the eleventh expedition, reappearing from the mission with no idea how he got home or the details of what he saw in Area X. The man who returned was not the man she fell in love with, their unstable relationship a thing of the past as he became a un-opinionated zombie, void of personality. She panicked and called the government to collect him, they took him away and soon he was diagnosed with the cancer than killed him. She wants to know what he saw and needs to know why he changed.

On their first day exploring they make a discovery that's not documented on any of their maps, a tunnel that disappears into the dark. They argue over their next move, to investigate the tunnel or to carry on and head to the lighthouse on the map. It's the first disagreement that tears the team apart but as they turn on each other and the biologist realises their decisions may not be of their own free will she is constantly drawn back to the tunnel and the secrets is contains.


Described as J.J Abrams meets Margaret Atwood, the Southern Trilogy has a lot to live up to but this first instalment certainly achieves it. Beautifully written prose and an instantly grabbing storyline make a winning team. The use of hypnosis as a control mechanism within the expedition adds an intriguing amount of doubt to the reports about Area X and the biologist herself. The psychologist is obviously hiding details from the rest of the team and as she slowly releases some of her secrets, the biologists knows there is far more to discover. With a touch of 'Lost' about it, it is easy to understand the J.J Abrams comparison, fingers crossed the ending isn't quite such a disappointment. If Annihilation is anything to go by then those fears will be unfounded and the Southern Reach Trilogy has the potential to become a science fiction classic of the future.

 





 

 
Buy Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer from Amazon here.